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Home / Tips and Tricks / The era of Smart TV Crapware has already begun

The era of Smart TV Crapware has already begun



  Male hand with remote control pointing at the television
Dmitri Ma / Shutterstock

Geeks often ask for stupid televisions. As the CTO of Vizio recently explained, smart TVs are cheaper than stupid TVs. TVs are so cheap that manufacturers can benefit by tracking their viewing habits and selling ads.

Why Smart TVs Are Cheaper Than Stupid TVs

You think a stupid TV would be cheaper than a Smart TV. A stupid TV would not need the processing power and the special software on a Smart TV. It could act as a panel (like a computer monitor) and you can connect devices via HDMI.

Why does every TV become a Smart TV?

The Verge spoke at CES 201

9 with Vizio CTO Bill Baxer. He spilled the beans:

So, it's not just about data collection. It's about the monetization of the TV after the purchase.

This is a damn industry. It's a 6 percent margin, right? I mean, you know it's pretty ruthless. You could say it's self-inflicted, or you could say it's a bigger strategy, and it does. The better strategy is that I really do not have to make money from the television. I have to cover my expenses.

That's not all bad. He further explains that Vizio is investing in its old televisions and updating them with new software. For example, Vizio TVs dating back to 2016 will receive support for AirPlay. Advertising is only one part of the business model, which includes money from the rental of films and television programs initiated by television.

Automatic Content Recognition Collection What You See

If you never use your Smart TV software, this may be the case, it does not haunt you. They use a set-top box or a streaming stick like a Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV, PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. The integrated software of your Smart TV can not detect you – right?

Incorrect. Modern Smart TVs use a technique called Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). If you are watching something on a TV connected to the TV – yes, even if you have a device connected via HDMI – the TV captures a few pixels of what you are looking at and uploads them to the TV manufacturer's servers. The servers can associate this with a movie or television program. The TV maker now knows what you are seeing and can sell this data to marketers and advertisers.

This works with any device connected to the TV, whether you watch cable TV, OTA channels with an antenna, or digital streams on Netflix through a streaming box.

For example, advertisers can buy this data to get a better idea of ​​how many people see their ads. This data can be linked to your IP address, so an advertiser may know if you've seen an ad on TV and then bought that ad on the display on your computer or phone.

RELATED: Do not bother with smart TV software, instead use a streaming stick or a set-top box

Smart TVs warn You, Kind Of

 Vizio TV screen with the setting of Intelligent Interactivity [19659006] Smart TVs generally warn and ask for permission. You may be asked to track your TV to give better recommendations or the like. You can generally disable tracking if you want. But it can be confusing.

For example, to disable this stuff on my Vizio TV, I had to turn off "Smart Interactivity". This is a terribly misleading name and does not sound like a feature that my TV pursues habits; Instead, it sounds like something you want.

Vizio can pay up to $ 17 million to file a lawsuit claiming that he or she is not following the viewing habits of Vizio TV owners without proper disclosure. Modern smart TVs will usually ask you if you want to enable this option when setting it up, although most users will quickly click through and allow these messages.

It is also worth noting that this only works if the TV is connected to the TV Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. If you never connect your Smart TV to the Internet, you will not be able to upload this data – however, some TV features will not work, and no updates will be provided with new features such as AirPlay.

What About Crapware?

This is the same business model found in cheap Windows laptops and Android phones. The race down has made the hardware so cheap that manufacturers have to make money in other ways than just buying.

For PCs, it is "Crapware", additional software preinstalled on the PC. PC manufacturers are paid to install this garbage. Crapware includes free trial versions of antivirus products that will make you pay for something bad not happening to your PC.

Modern smart TV manufacturers collect data about what you see, sell ads and earn a price when you digitally rent movies and TV shows.

Of course, these are not the only sources of revenue. Smart TV manufacturers can be paid to pre-install and put TV service apps in the spotlight. Some TV remotes have special buttons for Netflix and other services – these services usually have paid money to get to this remote.

RELATED: How Computer Manufacturers Are Paid for Making Your Laptop Worse

Even many streaming boxes are similar to

 roku ultra and remote control on the shelf

Do you think you are safe because you have disconnected your TV from the Internet and use a streaming box? Think again.

Roku has a similar business model and also accepts money from streaming services to place dedicated, physical keys for services such as Netflix and Hulu on its remote controls. There are even Roku remotes with special media service buttons like Rdio that no longer exist.

This streaming box bought by Roku also has advertising. Roku boss Anthony Wood told The Verge in 2018 that Roku is making money on advertising and video content, not hardware sales:

We certainly do not earn enough money to support our technical organization and operations and reduce operating costs the Roku service. This is not paid for by the hardware. That's what our ad and content business pays for.

And if you do not disable this feature, Roku also tracks what you see and uses the data to sell ads.

RELATED: How to Disable Custom Ads and Tracking on Your Roku

Television sets are a good channel for tracking, advertising and media sales

That's why it's so difficult to buy a stupid TV. The manufacturers get enough money to cover the costs of the TV in advance, but with the sale of this hardware, they make no big profit. You make money by tracking your viewing habits, selling ads, and getting commissions on digital media purchases and loans that you make on the TV.

If you disable tracking and never use any of the media apps on the TV itself, that's fine. They earn enough money from other people so they can afford not to make extra money from people like you. It's all integrated into their income model.

It is also difficult to complain. People love cheap TVs, and it's clear that most people do not want to pay extra for TVs without built-in tracking capabilities. After all, you can still disable the tracking if you know what you are doing.


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